Written by Nick Heer.

Parts Unknown

I have previously linked to this piece from Anthony Bourdain, but I keep coming back to it. It is from 2013 and just eight paragraphs long, without a single wasted word:

That the world is, in fact, filled with mostly good and decent people who are simply doing the best they can. Everybody, it turns out, is proud of their food (when they have it). They enjoy sharing it with others (if they can). They love their children. They like a good joke. Sitting at the table has allowed me a privileged perspective and access that others, looking principally for “the story,” do not, I believe, always get.

Anyone may quibble with the luxury Bourdain enjoyed of showing up to someone’s house or restaurant with a camera crew in tow — of course they were willing to be nice. But “nice” is not substantial. The skill Bourdain had was to engender the trust of telling things as they really were. That often meant confronting the privilege he enjoyed, embodying the kind of political incorrectness anyone honest and self-aware enough ought to. I do not idolize him — I struggle with the concept of having idols at all — but I do think Bourdain at his best is something aspirational for any of us.

And he wrote with stunning lucidity.